Our Lady of the Visitation Parish members made last weekend a time for celebration for the Rev. Raymond Fecteau, commemorating the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the Catholic priesthood.
“It has been an interesting 40 years … and going quicker towards the end,” Fecteau said.
The days-long celebration began with a Friday evening reception held at the Kentlands mansion. Fr. Fecteau was joined by his mother and members of his family, scores of parishioners past and present, fellow priests and members of his seminary class, and other noteworthy locals including a former Congresswoman.
Festivities continued with Celebration of the Sacred Liturgy on Saturday evening at OLVP, concelebrated with Monsignor Maurice O’Connell, Deacon Robert Fischer, Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger and Rev. Matthew Punchayil, OLVP Parochial Vicar.
“A parish is like both a wife and a child. There is a special relationship between a pastor and his people,” said Fr. Fecteau as he began his homily.
Monsignor O’Connell remarked that Fr. Fecteau, although the youngest member of their seminary class, was “recognized as the most intelligent in our class … the brightest and most innovative.”
For his many years of dedicated service as chaplain to law enforcement officers of Montgomery County, Assistant Chief of Police Russ Hamill presented Fr. Fecteau with the Chief’s Commendation, a high honor most often given for an act of valor.
“If you knew all the men and women that Fr. Ray has ministered to in our police department, you would understand it was an act of valor,” Hamill said.
A reception was held in the parish hall after mass where Fr. Fecteau was honored with well-wishes and gifts from Mary of Nazareth School and the OLVP community.
Laura Aizkaln, who was baptized and received her First Communion from Fr. Fecteau, provided 100 cupcakes arrayed in the shape of a cross for the dessert table on behalf of her business, Battersweet Cupcakes.
Fecteau was ordained on May 13, 1972, by Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, D.C. and served four years as an assistant pastor at St. Bartholomew Parish in Bethesda, MD.
While at St. Bart’s, he began his doctoral studies at Catholic University and later completed his doctorate in ministry while serving as associate pastor and parochial administrator at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersburg.
From 1984 to 1988, Fecteau served as associate pastor at St. Jane de Chantal Parish in Bethesda, and later at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown, from 1988 to 1990.
But the two perhaps most-defining milestones of his career in the Archdiocese of Washington came from James Cardinal Hickey. In 1985, Fecteau was appointed chaplain to law enforcement officers of Montgomery County, and again in 1990, when he was asked to begin a new parish in Darnestown.
Fr. Fecteau was installed as the first pastor of Our Lady of the Visitation Parish in June ’91.
“It is a privilege to have helped in the establishment of Mary of Nazareth School … and a joy to oversee the building of our church,” he wrote in a recent parish newsletter of the 1994 opening.
“At OLVP, I enjoy meeting with and preparing couples for the baptism of their children, teaching confirmands and interviewing children preparing for First Eucharist,” he added.
He also serves as National Catholic Chaplain to the Boy Scouts of America.
Forty years may have gone by quickly for Fr. Fecteau, but after serving the community in so many ways for so long, he knows that his actions have spoken louder than his words.
As his favorite quote from St. Francis of Assisi goes, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”